There is always a concern in the back of my mind, am I living a life pleasing to my Heavenly Father and beloved Savior Jesus Christ? The Savior said, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5: 6 in the Bible). I think all of us have experienced hunger and thirst in our lives. When deprived, the desire for food and water becomes a priority and a burning desire to receive. It also should bring to mind how dependent we are on the Lord for our continued existence on the earth. Do I have that strong of a desire to live righteously? I worry that I do not.
The English word righteousness describes the ideal of religious life. Righteousness is the right conduct before God. The dictionary stated, “Meeting the standards of what is right and just; morally right: a right action”. The Greek word that was translated as “filled” also means “to feed or fatten an animal in a stall” and connotes the idea of eating until completely satisfied. This helps us understand the Lord’s promise to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness—He will feed them spiritually until they are completely satisfied.
Righteous or righteousness is not perfection (none of us are perfect in this life). It is a condition in which a person moves toward the Lord in love by keeping His commandments. “If you love me, keep my commandments”
(John 14: 15 in the Bible)
Overcoming the Natural Man and Woman
The natural man and woman can be selfish, lazy, proud, profane, hateful, angry, dishonest, deceiving, hurtful and many other negative attributes. Our challenge is to overcome these natural tendencies and become more like the Savior. The apostle Paul said, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4: 24 in the Bible) Another ancient prophet explained it this way, “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love…” (Mosiah 3: 19 p. 153 in the Book of Mormon)
The Battle of Controlling Ourselves
Melvin J. Ballard, gave a talk to help us live correctly. He said, “The greatest conflict that any man or woman will ever have … will be the battle that is had with self,” explaining that Satan, “the enemy of our souls,” attacks us through “the lusts, the appetites, the ambitions of the flesh.”6 So the primary battle is between our divine and spiritual nature and the carnal natural man. Remember, we can receive spiritual help through the influence of the Holy Ghost that will “teach you all things.” (John 14: 26 in the Bible)
David O. McKay said: “Man’s earthly existence is but a test as to whether he will concentrate his efforts, his mind, his soul, upon things which contribute to the comfort and gratification of his physical nature, or whether he will make as his life’s purpose the acquisition of spiritual qualities.”
How Do We Become Righteous
We seek the Lord through daily sincere prayers, scripture study, keep the Sabbath holy, service to others in need and continually repenting of the actions and thoughts that are wrong. “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth); Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” (Ephesians 5: 8-10 in the Bible)
Every night in prayer to your Father in Heaven, ask to be forgiven of anything you did wrong and promise to try to be better tomorrow. I believe this helps our spirit remind our body who is in charge.
I encourage you to think about where you are now in controlling your carnal nature and empowering your divine, spiritual nature so when the time comes that your mortal body dies, your eternal spirit may pass into the spirit world to a joyful reunion with your loved ones and benefit from the Lord’s great plan of happiness and continued progression.
Some of this article came from a talk by M. Russell Ballard in the October 2019 General Conference